Planner and paper tasting kick-off for 2021

Midori MD planner and NTU notebook

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I talked about this in passing in my analogue daily journal post, but I added a few more things to round out the system, after using the other journal/planner combo for a few months.

Planner: Midori MD Notebook Light, A5, grid ruling

Midori MD Notebook light (grid) serves as the planner for the year, with monthly view spreads. I've put it inside an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket. There's 1 spread for the year, then 13 spreads for each month (Jan-Dec 2021 + Jan 2022). I drew a different little plant icon on the corner of every monthly spread.

Photo collage of 2 notebooks on a grey desk. The left-hand notebook is a Midori MD Light Note book in A5 size with grid ruling. It is slipped into an Aranzi Aronzo notebook jacket that has an integrated zipper pocket. The jacket is light tealed in colour, with dark brown cartoon animals printed on the front. Collage mainly shows the hand-drawn yearly and monthly calendar interiors of the Midori MD notebook, which I'm using as a planner. The right-hand notebook is a brown kraft covered one from NTU.

I added a few pages for projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

Photo collage showing the interior spreads of the Midori MD Notebook planner with grid ruling Spreads shown include- projects, media, achievements, and a loose habit tracker.

I'm doing fountain pen "paper tasting" for 2021, meaning I'm going to journal in separate and different lower-page count notebooks, every 2 months or so. The first one to go is...

Journal: NTU Press Bookstore 臺大出版中心校史館書店 notebook, A5, no ruling

The National Taiwanese University Press Bookstore (Pinkoi storefront) has branded stationery, including fountain pens, notebooks, and more. This also includes the Taiwanese-designed Take a Note planner that uses Tomoe River 68gsm paper that I've only seen places like Shigure Inks stock in North America. The planner design won a Good Design award in 2017.

I got some of their basic sewn brown kraft notebooks that were marketed as being suitable for fountain pens.

Photo of 2 brown kraft paper notebooks with NTU (National Taiwan University) branding on the front cover. Covers are plain and minimal, other than the University's name printed in small font on the covers.

Pages are blank/unruled, 米道林(楓林紙) 100gsm paper, 64 pages total. The paper isn't white, more like a cream stock (comparable to the colour of midori MD, perhaps a tad lighter).

Photo collage of fountain pen ink tests on an interior page of the NTU cover. The left-image shows consecutive rows of handwriting, done in different coloured inks. The right-image shows the back-side of the page that was written to, to show that there is minmal ink bleedthrough (only when there was flex nib used, or certain inks used)

Most of my inks did fine on the paper. The ones that feathered and bled were Sailor Kobe Kounan Maroon, Platinum Carbon Black, and J. Herbin Emeraude de Chivor. FPR Royal Flush Blue was also a bit more prone to feathering, but not in a significant way (to me).

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting, using flex nib/applying pressure on the nib.

Pushing down on the nib with "flex" also caused the ink to selectively feather and bleed through on some other inks.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Compared to Midori MD and Tomoe River, shading on this paper feels slightly flatter for some inks. There is practically no pink sheen in FPR Royal Flush Blue here, and Lamy Turmaline shows very minor pink/purple sheen. Overall I find that inks appear brighter/lighter in appearance, much like they would on regular printer paper.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

Overall, I think it's a solid performer! Dry time seems good too, at least good enough that I don't even think about it.

Close-up photo of fountain pen ink handwriting

I bought some cute illustrated and perforated calendar sheets that I can paste into my journal. I might try to experiment with a bit more collage for this journal. Sometimes when the paper is expensive and optimized for FP ink I feel like I have to maximize all surface area for the ink, and not paste anything into it.

Photo collage of a dark brown leather traveler's style notebook in A5 size, which serves to hold the 2 notebooks mentioned in this post, together. The photo also shows a few fountain pens, a roll of dot-washi-tape stickers, and perforated date rectangles.

I also have this daily chinese calendar for FUN. I'm into this aesthetic sometimes; I was close to getting a chinese almanac, Tung Shing/通勝 for the year too. I wouldn't say that I'm particular about fengshui, astrology, or auspicious dates, but I wish I knew how to read the bottom part.

Photo of a traditional looking one-page-a-day chinese calendar, bound at the top with screws.

Today's music post: A compilation of Jane Zhang's (张靓颖) cover/rearrangement performances from the TV show Sound of my Dream (梦想的声音).

Oliver Exam fountain pen

Free fountain pen that works very well!

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A while back I got an Oliver Exam fountain pen (pistol ink mechanism) for free with my Rangapens order. After letting it air out for a few months, it's still a bit smelly (it doesn't sit with my other pens because of its smelliness), but tolerable, so I loaded it up with J. Herbin's Emeraude De Chivor sample that I had lying around.

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Wasn't sure what to expect (will it clog?! will this pen even write??), but it turns out that this is a great writer! It wrote wet right out of the gate; it's an ink guzzler! The nib (steel) feels softer than most steel nibs that I've used. Pretty shocking for a freebie pen! I think the nib says "Oliver 100 Steel B-CO", but I have no idea what that means. Might just be an Indian manufactured nib.

I saw these really cute chipmunk socks and bib and toy set by POMPKINS (ポプキンズ) and had to draw it as a memory...since I will not be able to wear these things. I've never been able to capture sheen and sparkle properly on photo (this is Midori MD cream paper) but it's way more prominent in real life.

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After using it for a while, I have noticed that the ink is drying and evaporating out (?) while just sitting on my desk, capped. The ink in the piston-well gets lower and lower everyday even though it isn't being used everyday. Too bad since I really do like the nib! Still a viable pen for a some shorter term-intense glitter writing session, but it doesn't seem like it will be reliable to hold ink in the long run. Too bad since I enjoy the nib and would've loved to have it in my regular rotation!

Today's music post: Care by beabadoobee from the Fake It Flowers album. I get 90s girl indie pop rock vibes from her music. I have limited music knowledge, but kind of like Natalie Imbruglia, Sheryl Crow in back in the 90s/early 2000s, but her voice sounds sweeter and youthful!

Nakabayashi Logical Air Swing Notebook

It is fountain pen-friendly

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Nakabayashi's Logical Air Swing notebook is fountain pen-friendly! Well, my bar for what is "fountain pen-friendly" is pretty low compared to other people. I'm willing to use any paper that at least has Level 0 properties (my made up, personal criteria):

Level 0

  • Ink doesn't feather outrageously
  • Ink doesn't bleed through the paper (can use both sides)

Level 1

  • Ink shows some sheen
  • Ink shows some shading

There is no Level 2. This is getting into my " I will weigh the tradeoffs" for different contexts/purposes.

  • Ghosting/show-through
  • Paper weight
  • Ink dry time
  • Paper colour
  • Notebook design (page count, numbering, ruling, binding, etc.)

The Logical Air Swing Notebook satisfies Level 0 and Level 1 in my personal assessment. I'm not going to get into great detail since there are others who have done paper comparison with a greater degree of control measures.

As a paper/notebook x fountain pen lover, I've referred to John Bosley's fountain pen friendly paper rating list as reference for what fun new things to try out. He also has a good list of fountain pen, ink, and paper basics.

A while back, John reviewed Nakabayashi's Logical Prime Notebook and I ended up looking into their broader Logical notebook brand. They had a notebook called Logical Air Swing Notebook as well. The promo for the Logical Air notebook says that it's especially good for students to be carrying lighter weight paper in their bags.

Somewhat confusing Swing Logical notebook nomenclature:

  • Swing Logical Air is 56gsm
  • Swing Logical is 70gsm
  • Logical Prime is "7% thicker and firmer than standard version" (advertised to be fountain pen-friendly)
  • There's also a whole bunch of other names in the notebook line, like Logical Think, Logical Brain, Logical Sport, etc..

Based on the logic (!) above, one might assume that Logical Air may NOT be fountain pen-friendly. It's interestingly close to the weight of many people's fountain pen grail paper Tomoe River/TR (52gsm). I see the value of TR but the dry time is a big trade-off for me.

Since I was making the best of my proxy shopping/shipping from Japan (Buyee), I threw in a A5 Logical Airs 5mm grid ruling into my order (from Fueru's Rakuten) and hoped for the best (they're ~180yen). Months later, they arrived!

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I have the green cover A5 5mm square grid notebook with 30 sheets. The cover is a lightweight and flexible cover stock with a bit of a gloss coating.

It's one fat signature, sewn-bound down the middle.

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The interior paper has a dotted line square grid, probably on ivory stock.

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It seems slightly more yellow than standard staples printer paper, but MUCH less yellow than Midori MD cream paper.

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Writing on the page...well, how do I describe it. The paper feels uncoated. It is textured. It felt like I was writing on regular printer paper, but without the ink bleeding/feathering. As soon as my nib hit the page it felt like it would feather and bleed, but it didn't.

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I don't think there was much (or any?) feathering, nor bleed-through. Whereas Rhodia paper hates me whenever I use flex nibs, this paper impressively handled it like a champion.

Backside of the page has ghosting, but feels less than 52gsm Tomoe River. It's still usable to me.

Overall I felt that my pen/inks probably wrote a bit dryer on this paper. I touched some of the Logical Prime paper in my order, and that stuff definitely feels smoother and coated to the finger, compared to Logical Air.

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The paper does show shading and sheen, but probably less than Tomoe River. I think the dry time is faster though! As mentioned previously, it felt like my inks wrote overall drier because of lack of coating/absorption, and that could lead to less sheen too. I'm not good at photographing sheen, but I do see a bit of it in the Lamy Turmaline and FPR Royal Flush Blue.

Today's music post: Brown Loop by Duval Timothy.

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Fountain pen day happens every first Friday of November.

[...] Fountain Pen Day is celebrated by enthusiasts worldwide as a time to embrace, promote, and share the use of fountain pens.

I didn't know it existed until this year. A few weeks ago I put up a currently using page that lists some of the materials I've been using, including fountain pens.

Why I appreciate fountain pens

  • don't have to press down for ink to come out (unless you need line variation)
  • can refill with new ink (plus so many colours and fancy properties like shading/sheening!)
  • steel or gold nibs feel stronger, feel longer lasting, and stay sharper, than pigment/fineliners with extended use
  • I enjoy the variety in writing experience (with different pen/ink/paper combinations)

I used my Platinum Carbon Black Desk Pen everyday in October to draw my tamagotchi aka #tamagoctober (cause it's water-resistant). I also used several pens (EF-M size) to do Alphonso Dunn pen & ink workbook exercises aka #dunn31. I completed 34+ exercises...but there are still many left.

Here are some pics of my pens and their respective #dunn31 exercises!

Pelikan 400NN (M) with Diamine Wagner

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Pilot Metropolitan (M) with Waterman Absolute Brown

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Ranga Sugarcane (Kanwrite flex) with Diamine Meadow

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FPR Himalaya GT v2 (ultraflex EF) with Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake

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Pilot Elite 95s Japan (EF) with Sailor Kobe Kounan Maroon

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Pilot Kakuno (M) with Pilot Namiki Black (stock cartridge ink)

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Opus 88 Omar (M) with Lamy Turmaline

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Lamy Safari (F) with Sailor Kobe Taisanji Yellow

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Paper used is Borden and Riley #37 boris bright white translucent visual bond LAYOUT. My pad is probably a decade old, so the name doesn't fully match their newer branding/edition.

Happy writing/drawing!

Today's music post: Give It Up 2 Me by Ojerime.

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy

Pilot Kakuno and Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy fountain pens.

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Staying indoors means too much time to futz around on the internet and fuel my fountain pen fever. Small pen day with Pilot Kakuno (M) and Sailor HighAce Neo calligraphy clear (2.0mm)!

These two pens had similar packaging, so I took photos of them together.

Pilot Kakuno (m) with green cap and dark gray body

I love the cute face on the nib of my Pilot Kakuno! The packaging is very charming too. I'm weak for anything small and cute (Kakuno is for kids). I'm glad that the barrel was more of a warm dark grey than black like the photos. I was originally hoping to get the cream/yellow one, but they were discontinued, so I (bitterly?) took this colourway instead. Now that I see it in real life, I love it!

The pen wrote super smoothly out of the package! It's short and stubby. Now I look at my Pilot metro and think about how it isn't nearly as cute.

Sailor HighAce Neo clear calligraphy 2.0mm

The heart breather hole and clear feed are lookers on this pen. I find that it writes kind of dry. These days I use it to fill in larger areas of black. I have no calligraphy skills :).

For both pens I have the given black cartridge in there, and I'll syringe fill it later when it's used up. No exciting inks for now!

They're both really small compared to most of my other pens.

The Neo HighAce came with double sided sheet tutorial, one for how to do calligraphy. It's a nice touch/gesture, even though I really don't have the patience and motor skills for calligraphy, so this is just an insane stub pen for me to use to write headers for now. The Kakuno also came with charming wiggly handdrawn-looking instructions. I assume to appeal to kids, which I seem to be at heart. I like these personified talking nib heads a lot, they're just so pleasant!!

I've always wondered why cartridges aren't longer, because there is clearly MORE space left...? Perhaps it has something to do with pressure and vacuum?

Today's music post: The Real Folk Blues by Seatbelts [For these Virtual Days session]. There's also an interesting re-arranged-ish version with a lot of other artists/musicians/voice actors here.

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Last updated January 14 2021!

I have a list of Canadian fountain pen + accessory vendors here.

Notebooks, sketchbooks, paper

Use case Brand Size/model Status
2021 planner Midori MD A5 Notebook light 48 pages
Daily journal NTU A5 Kraft brown notebook 64 pages
Commonplace book Midori MD A5 notebook gridded ~40/176 pages used
Creative notebook Wai Au ? Shiba Inu cover, cross grid ? ~83/168 pages used
HWA 4-panel comics Plenty Steps A5 Info & Sketch BOOK ~16/40 pages used
Scrappy watercolour Seawhite ? William Holman Hunt cover, spiral bound ? ~34/50 pages used
Writing letters Life Via Airmail ?/50
Futzing with inks Sakae Technical Paper A4 Tomoe River 52gsm loose leaf white and cream, handbound to A5/A6 booklets ?

So many books waiting for next round use: Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Life, Life x Kleid, Maruman Mnemosyne, Delfonics Rollbahn, Laika Línea, Kyokuto F.O.B., Logical Prime, more Midori MDs, etc.


Fountain pens and inks

Brand Model Nib Ink
Lamy Safari (yellow) F Sailor Kobe #21 Taisanji Yellow
Pilot Metropolitan (lizard, bronze) M Waterman Absolute Brown
TWSBI Eco (clear) 1.1mm stub J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe
Platinum Carbon Desk Pen (black, manually cut down) EF Platinum Carbon Black
Opus 88 Omar (yellow) M Lamy Turmaline
Ranga Regular Sugarcane (olive ebonite, matte, eyedropper) Kanwrite flex Diamine Meadow
Pilot Kakuno (green/gray) M Sailor Kobe Sannomiya Panse
Sailor HighAce Neo Calligraphy 2.0mm Empty
FPR Himalaya v2 GT (Saffron Orange) Ultraflex FPR Royal Flush Blue
FPR Himalaya v2 (Taj Mahal White) 1.0mm stub Not working
Pelikan 400 NN (green striped), vintage/used (1950-1960s) M, 14k gold Diamine Wagner
Pilot Elite 95s (burgundy, Japanese market version) EF, 14k gold Sailor Kobe #27 Kounan Maroon
Oliver Exam ? Piston filler (clear) ? J Herbin 1670 Emeraude de Chivor
Pelikan M400 Souverän (black red) F, 14k gold Diamine Oxblood
Platinum Preppy (clear) 0.3 Stock cartridge
TA+d Fiber Black F Noodler's Eel Cactus Fruit

I also have some other sample tubes that I'll eventually get through...


Other writing/drawing stuff

Brand Model Notes
Deleter Free Pen holder Use it for dip nibs and even some lino carving cutter heads haha
Tachikawa Nikko G For inks that don't go in my fountain pens
Pentel Energel Infree 0.5 Fast drying ink, apparently
Pentel Fude pocket brush pen and Fude brush pen I've had these forever...
Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil 0.5mm Sharp point forever!
Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm Exclusively for erasable blue lead...
Stabilo Left Right mechanical pencil 2mm For fattier lead
Prismacolor Travel sharpener Weirdest stubby cigar shape but it works and keeps shavings contained. Inside looks like a magnesium Kum sharpener
Prismacolor Col Erase in various colours (terra cotta, light green, scarlet red, white, non-photo blue) TBH these are only marginally more erasable, so still looking for better ones

I have so much more than this but this is...the top of the pile.


Book and zine-making

Brand Model Notes
Olfa Small stationery cutter Cut all the paper...
Lineco Bone folder Fold and score all the zines/books!
Durodex 200-DX stack cutter Wai did the research on this and recommended!
Max HD-10V 2-way stapler Industrial design genius, SOOO much better than those huge and heavy long-arm staplers (if your zines are small)
Gruschwitz Bookbinding no. 30/3 linen thread I just switched to this from Lineco bookbinding thread (way more affordable)...

Other favourites

Brand Model Notes
Philips Sonicare BreathRx tongue scaper Life changing!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Backnife Ceramic utility knife Super slim, light, and easy to carry for the times where you need to cut something (also Canadian-owned!)
OK-Bon Compression wraps Magical fabric that endlessly self adheres, but is soft. I use a thin wrap to put around a wrist brace splint for wrist stabilization